If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
Can students pray in school?
As a firestorm has erupted over prayer in school at Chestatee High School in northwest Hall County, many are coming to the defense of prayer in school.
Prayer by students is allowed as long as it does not disrupt class.
Students can pray before school, after school, at lunchtime, before a football game, chorus concert or swim meet and, of course, before that tough math exam. The First Amendment protecting freedom of speech and religion allows for those practices.
What’s not allowed is faculty and staff praying in front of students. Courts have ruled that these adults’ practice of beliefs in front of students may be perceived as an establishment of religion because they are government employees.
Staff can pray together when students are not around, and they can be in attendance at a student-led prayer in order to maintain order and discipline.
For more details on what is and is not allowed, check out the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Student Rights Handbook. There’s a copy posted online with “Schools struggle with religious expression on campus” that ran earlier this week in The Times.
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